IRVING, Texas -- At some point growing up, Matt Cassel dressed up as Troy Aikman for Halloween. There might be pictures somewhere.
"I think it was from a Sears catalog back in the day," Matt's brother, Jack, said. "We definitely had a Dallas Cowboys uniform. No. 8, Troy Aikman. We had the helmet. I think at one point we all dressed up as Aikman for Halloween.
"It was like, 'What are you going to be this year?' And somebody would say, 'You be the Cowboy this year.' "
On Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Matt Cassel will have his own Cowboys uniform as the team's starting quarterback when they play the New York Giants.
Picked up in a trade from the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 23, one of Cassel's first comments about being dealt to the Cowboys was his love affair with the team.
"It's been a childhood dream of mine to be a Cowboy honestly," Cassel said. "My father grew up in West Texas, in Lubbock, and I've got family here, and I grew up a Dallas Cowboy fan all my life. So to actually have it come true finally and actually be here is a dream come true, and I'm really excited about it."
Greg Cassel played football at Monterey High School in Lubbock and spent two years at Texas Tech. After getting married, Cassel and his wife, Barbara, moved to California with Hollywood dreams. She became an Emmy Award-winning set director. He wrote for the television show "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," and also wrote TV movies for Steve Tisch, the president of the Giants.
Now his son will be trying to beat Tisch's team.
Matt's love of the Cowboys, as well as that of his brothers, Jack and Justin, coincided with the team's resurgence under the Triplets -- Michael Irvin, Aikman and Emmitt Smith -- in the early 1990s. The first player Matt mentioned in remembering those days was Jay Novacek.
Aikman has worked a number of Matt's games as Fox's top analyst, but Cassel has never told him about the devotion he had to those teams.
"Nah, I try to stay away from that," Matt said. "I don't want him to say, 'Hey, get out of here. I know what you are trying to achieve with this.' No, he has always been great. We never really caught up in that sense of it."
Cassel could tell him about the Super Bowl parties he held for family and friends.
"Vivid memories of watching games as much as we could, especially the Super Bowls," said Jack, who pitched for the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros and is now an investment banker. "Our dad, he would get Cowboy-ed out. Dad wore a cowboy hat. He was the lone guy in LA with a cowboy hat. Everybody knew he was a big Dallas fan."
Not only did the Aikman jersey get passed down among the boys, so did the Starter jacket.
"That was one recurring theme: Dad would get us stuff, but it would stay in the family or in circulation," Jack said.
Seven years later, the Cowboys are asking Matt to keep their season afloat as Romo recovers.
When the trade to the Cowboys became official, the family’s text-message string lit up.
"I got text messages from my brothers and my sisters that said he's looking down on me with a smile on his face," Matt said, "and I know he would be."
Matt's mother, Barbara, and godmother, Lynn Kouf, will be at MetLife Stadium on Sunday with some other family from the area.
Jack will watch Sunday's game from his California home. He will be in attendance at AT&T Stadium for the Nov. 1 game against the Seattle Seahawks with his kids and some nephews. They will go trick-or-treating the night before the game with Matt's kids and meet his newest addition, a boy, Clayton, born last Saturday.
Sunday's start -- his first with the Cowboys -- will be different than all the others.
"It's certainly not lost on us what this means and just how kind of the stars aligned that he's now a Dallas Cowboy," Jack said. "For our family, being in Los Angeles it's not the obvious team to follow, but it was for us. We all kind of grew up being Dallas Cowboys fans, and now to see Matty in his career have that come to fruition is pretty special."